BEYOND TACIT KNOWLEDGE: ΗOW MICHAEL POLANYI’S THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE ILLUMINATES THEORY DEVELOPMENT IN ORGANIZATIONAL RESEARCH

Demetris Hadjimichael, Igor Pyrko, Haridimos Tsoukas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this essay, we present Michael Polanyi’s theory of knowledge and outline its implications for theory development in organizational research. While Polanyi is best known in the field for his concept of tacit knowledge, we discuss here several other cognate concepts Polanyi has also introduced, notably: conviviality, indwelling, tradition and lore, coherence, and post-critical reason, and show how they help us better understand organizational theorizing. Specifically, we argue the following. First, when engaged in theory creation, organizational scholars integrate largely unspecifiable particulars, in search of deepening coherence, by dwelling in a fiduciary framework of previous theory, others’ narrativized experiences, and their own personal experiences. Secondly, driven by intellectual passions and commitments, organizational scholars bring about conceptual novelty by seeking to redirect intellectual attention to hitherto tacitly accepted subsidiary particulars, which they seek to re-integrate in novel ways. And thirdly, since all knowledge, no matter how abstract, necessarily involves skilful action, organizational scholars dwell in scientific practice and, therefore, interiorize – that is, they become subsidiarily aware of - the practice’s collective purpose, which they freely and responsibly enact through the exercise of public liberty.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Early online date21 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Dec 2023

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